Christmas treats, New Year's treats … January is nearly over so it’s sorta time to get things back on track. Welcome salad! But tanked up salad with all the trimmings including fried, salted croutons …
2 red peppers (bell peppers / capsicum) 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil Finely grated zest of 1 lemon 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 1 small red chili, deseeded and finely chopped 100g (about 3 ounces) sugar snaps or a bunch of asparagus (about 10) 8-10 black olives 2 Tbsp lemon juice (juice of about 1 nice squidgy lemon) 1½ tsp flaky sea salt Freshly ground black pepper 4 big iceberg lettuce leaves 100g (about 4 oz) baby salad mix, or salad leaves of your choice 100g (about 4 oz) canned tuna, drained, or 270g (9-10 oz) fresh tuna, thinly sliced 1 perfectly ripe avocado, sliced and cubed into small chunks Croutons: 3 medium slices of fresh sourdough or grainy bread to yield about 1½ cups croutons 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil Salt
1 We want to char-grill these peppers so have a look HERE to do it. We want them delightfully blackened! Once they’ve cooled, remove skin, core and seeds, and slice into thin strips of tasty goodness.
2 For the croutons, heat 2 tablespoons oil over a medium-low heat in a medium-sized frying pan. Slice the pieces of bread into chunky 2cm (¾“) cubes and add to the pan with a generous sprinkle of salt. Fry the bread for around 3 or 4 minutes, until crispy. These crunchy morsels are addictive so while it’s best not to get involved and snack on them, I also highly advise it… they’re too tempting, and delicious. And life is too short. Fried salted bread. WHY NOT.
3 When bread is adequately crispened, (not sure if that is even a word!), scatter on to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside for later.
4 In the same frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons oil over a low heat and add the lemon zest, crushed garlic, and chopped chilli and gently sizzle for about 20 seconds only! You want to infuse the oil rather than fry the ingredients so keep a watchful eye as the garlic will burn pretty quickly. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside. (The zest, garlic and chilli will continue sizzling in the bowl from the oil’s residual heat so don’t over-do it!)
5 If there are any spooky ends on the sugar snaps, chop them off along with any stringy bits. Bring a small pot of water to the boil and plunge sugar snaps into the bubbling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and refresh with cold running water until they feel cool. This stops them cooking further and turning into lifeless floppy blobs and locks in their green colour. Drain again and dry on paper towels. If you are using asparagus, trim the ends and cut into short lengths. Cook as above, allowing 3-4 minutes. Drain, and refresh as described.
6 If the olives aren’t already pitted, then pit them, and chop them into little pieces. Add to the large bowl along with the lemon juice, salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix it up.
7 Wash and dry iceberg leaves and break into small pieces. Add them, the baby salad mix, canned tuna if using, avocado, sugar snaps or asparagus, and sliced pepper to the large bowl and toss everything together. Check seasoning, drape fresh tuna over the top if using, and serve with croutons on the side.
8 Feast immediately!